Thursday, September 24, 2020

Trade Zone

French companies have emerged as major foreign investors and partners in the Indian economy



UBIFRANCE, the French Agency for International Business Development is a key public partner coming under the aegis of France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. UBIFRANCE promotes technologies, products, services and know-how from France, and puts France-based professionals in contact with their international counterparts in 70 other countries. Its know-how and experience have been globally recognised thanks to its worldwide network of 80 Trade Commissions, which have worked with around 7,700 companies during the past year.
PIERRE LIGNOT, COUNTRY DIRECTOR, INDIAN SUB CONTINENT responded to queries from SHRIKANT RAO on the role played by UBIFRANCE in furthering Indo-French trade engagement.




Briefly give us an understanding of UBI France’s role as a business and trade facilitator and the main initiatives it has taken recently in building Indo-French relationship?


The French Trade Commission UBIFRANCE in India’s key mission is to promote trade relations between France and India. We assist French-based companies seeking potential partners and new markets in India, while helping Indian businesses to identify potential French suppliers and technical partners.

In India, our 4 offices are located in the business hubs of New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai. We have a dedicated multicultural team of over 30 experts in the following growing sectors:Agro-business, Lifestyle, Consumer Goods and Healthcare, Infrastructure, Transport and Industry, ICTs, Retail and Services.We accompanied, in 2013, around 400 French companies to India by providing customised services, by bridging them with local clients and partners through the organisation of missions, and by assisting them to participate in collective events, such as French Pavilions at leading trade fairs, technical seminars, B to B meetings, various business networking events and press conferences




Tell us aboutthe contours of the current trade relations between India and France? How important is India as a trade partner for France?


Our bilateral trade remained around €7 billion ($9 billion) at the end of 2013. French investments in India have developed strongly on a long-term perspective. India has emerged as one of the most attractive countries for our investors. In comparison, as per available estimates, the total investments of French companies in China rose to $17 billion in 2011. For French investors, India now arouses as much interest as China, although China’s GDP is four times that of India. During the course of the next 5 years, the consolidated turnover of French companies in India is expected to display unprecedented growth as compared to the present consolidated turnover underlining the importance Paris attaches to trade relations with India. The key French investments are by Accor, Carrefour, Danone, Michelin, Renault, Sanofi and Seb.




Give us an understanding of the French investments in India?


The stock of investments made by French companies in India totals a little over $17 billion. This figure places France amongst the largest foreign investors in India. The first group of French companies came to India over 30 years ago. The second group came around the year 2000. However, the large majority of leading French companies created their subsidiaries in India from 2006 onwards. French companies are present throughout the territory of India but are principally concentrated in the large metropolitan cities like Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kolkata etc. French companies employ more than 2,40,000 skilled staff in India. A dozen companies employ more than 5,000 employees. The largest French employer in India, Capgemini, has a skilled workforce of over 40,000. More specifically, the information technology and communications sector (low capital investment) is one of the larger French employers in India, as a dozen companies employ a total of a little over 70,000 persons. Banks also feature amongst the larger French employers in India (BNP Paribas employs 14,000 persons). In the industry sector, the major employment providers today are Schneider Electric (17,000 persons), Alcatel Lucent (12,000 employees), Alstom (9,000 persons).Most of the skilled employees are Indian nationals. The number of French expatriates is marginal. Despite that there is no denying the French influence that still exists in this country in some areas like architecture and urban planning. Le Corbusier’s contribution to this field, with the famous planning of the city of Chandigarh, still inspires new cities’ planning such as Navi Mumbai.




What are the areas of the Indian economy in which French firms are participating?


French companies have emerged as one of the major foreign investors and partners of the Indian economy. The economic and strategic partnership between our two countries is now highlighted through more French investments in India. French companies import new technologies into India, they contribute to building the ‘Made in India’ label, they contribute to the evolution of the nomenclatures of products exported from India, they contribute in the extension of the formal sector of the Indian economy and in the development of R&D and innovation in the country. This movement, initiated 30–40 years ago by some companies, greatly expanded over the last 5–6 years,  and has now placed India amongst the largest partners of France, in terms of implantations in the world. French companies are present in the sectors of aeronautics, electrical equipment and energy, defence equipment, construction and construction materials, automobiles, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and para-pharmaceuticals. They contribute to popularising the “Made in India” label because of their high production standards. Several of these companies mainly export products from India to southern Asian and Gulf markets, making profits while competing with Chinese products.




Not much is known of the engagement of Indian firms in French projects. Could you tell us about it? What is the role played by Indian firms in France or in French territories and the extent of the investment?


France is now home to nearly 100 Indian companies. Twelve new investment decisions were recorded in 2011.There are nearly 100 Indian companies doing business in France, employing over 5,600 people. The number of new job-creating investment projects was unchanged in 2011, with 12 new projects that would generate 188 jobs. In 2011, India was the 13th largest foreign investor in France by project numbers. Half of all Indian investment projects were in the software and IT services sector. Indian companies prioritised site creations in 2011, which accounted for over 83 per cent of projects.




What are the sectors of development in India in which French firms are looking to provide expertise?


We encourage French companies to invest in the following areas: Software, electronics, digital security, agro food industry equipment, wines and liquors, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, biotechnologies, cosmetics, electricity and energy efficiency, environment, railways and urban.




Give us a sense of the recent delegation visits from France that have taken place in the context of building of ties between Indian and French firms? 


In order to cater to the needs of these companies as well as the companies which have not entered the market yet, the French Trade Commission UBI FRANCE in India has been organising events alongside major exhibitions such as IREE 2013 and Urban Mobility, 2012, with a new edition coming up later in 2014.




The rail equipment and urban mobility space is one area where there is a great possibility of increasing collaboration between India and France.


That is very much so. The Indian Railway Equipment Exhibition 2013, partnered by the Ministry of Indian Railway, held in New Delhi saw the French Trade Commissions-UBIFRANCE India welcoming 6 leading companies from France to showcase their expertise and state-of-the-art technologies. The French presence included PVI, Dubois, Certifer, Minerva, BureauVeritasand Forest Line. We coordinated the participation of the delegation to the technical conferences on different aspects of emerging opportunities in Indian Railways as well as organised B2B meetings between the French participants and Indian stakeholders of the sector to enhance business opportunities. We also facilitated a visit to the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) of the Indian Railways in Lucknow during which French companies met with the officials of the respective divisions that were of interest to them and could visit the testing laboratories of the Indian organisation.Similarly at theUrban Mobility India 2012 Conference Cum Exhibition in New Delhi which was organised by the Indian Institute of Urban Technology under the aegis of the Ministry of Urban Development, we had 14 leading companies from France like Alstom Transport, Certifer, Deny Fontaine, Egis Rail, Eurailtest, Eurovia, Forest-Line, IDMS, Lumiplan, Scoma, Visionor, Vossloh Cogifer and Yellow Window Consultants  showcasing their expertise and state-of-the-art technologies in the fields of urban mobility. The French Association of Rail Industries (AIF) also accompanied the delegation. On this occasion, we collaborated with the European Business and Technology Centre (EBTC,) hosted a pavilion and coordinated the participation of the delegates to technical conferences on different aspects of sustainable mobility. We also conducted technical roundtables on themes like "Answering to the expectations of tomorrow’s passengers (signaling, communication, comfort and safety), Development of the urban and railway networks in the Eastern States of India, and Transport & Technologies". Over 80 B2B meetings between French and Indian stakeholders of the sector were organised. Both the workshops and the B2B meetings provided an interactive platform to foster technology transfers as well as commercial and industrial partnerships, and helped to enhance expertise and encourage exchange of innovative ideas between participants from France and Indian decision makers from all around the country.




Will we see the engagement continuing in future editions?


But of course! In the 2014 edition, the French Trade Commissions-UBIFRANCE will reiterate its participation at the event with a country pavilion to host B2B meetings and will coordinate the delegation's participation to the technical conferences and roundtables. Various site visits will carefully be planned for the delegation to discuss opportunities for French technology in the field of sustainable mobility.




One area that has shown great promise for Indo French cooperation is the energy/power sector?


It is true that the Power sector is one area where French presence in undeniable. We have giants like Areva, Alstom and EDF working in more conventional sectors such as nuclear and thermal but who also have invested heavily in renewable energy. A few SMEs have also made a name for themselves in the solar sector by winning big state contracts such as Solaire Direct. UBIFRANCE actively participates each year at the India Nuclear Energy exhibition in Mumbai. In 2013 for the INE Exhibition organised by UBM, we welcomed 18 leading companies from France to showcase their expertise and state-of-the-art technologies in the field of nuclear with site visits to Godrej and Walchandnagar Industries prior to the exhibition. Some of the French companies who had a presence at the exhibition wereAreva, Daher Vanatome, EDF, Fluidyn, FNAG, Forest Line, Georgin, G.I.I.N, IssartelIndustrie, MirionTechnologies, OnetTechnologies, PFME, REEL, Rolls Royce, SOURIAU, Vallourec, Valinex and Weir. In 2014 too we will reiterate our participation at the event with a country pavilion,
a networking dinner and site visits to L&T, Hazira and NPCIL




Traditionally in India there has been an accent on English education. What are you doing to popularise Indo-French cultural exchanges?


Cultural and language centres such as Alliance Francaise- 25 in total – are well established and scattered throughout India. A bi-yearly Indo-French (fusion) cultural event named “Bonjour India” has beenorganised twice already (2011 and 2013). Other cultural events happen all the year round.







On the role played by French companies in India’s construction and infrastructure sector:

French presence in India is increasing by the day in India’s infrastructure sector underlining the importance Paris and French companies attach to the India Growth Story. In the construction and engineering sector per se, we can account for companies such as Vinci Construction (Eurovia), Ameco, OutinordSAS,Lafarge, Vicat etc. Even SMEs are keen to explore the Indian market. They are very interested in working on technology-oriented projects as they have both the technology and the knowhow to work in difficult terrain and with new construction methods. The French presence is well established in the railway and urban transport sector. All major groups (Alstom, Thales, RATP, SNCF, Metro One, Veolia Transport) and renowned SMEs like Vossloh Cogifer, Egis Rail, Corex, Faiveley, Railtechetc have opened subsidiaries or work through partnerships in India. They are all working on various metro projects throughout India in Tier-1 cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata and in Tier-2 cities as well. Other well-known firms such as Vinci, Safege and Lumiplan work in the field of urban planning and re-structuring as well as smart cities.

Sophie Clavelier, Head of Infrastructure, Transport and Industries




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